Offer the Hurting Something Special: Silence

November 3, 2011


I decided to take about a week from writing my blog. My mind was full of too many things last week for me to try to form 600-900 words all together that made some sort of sense.

You see, on October 27, my grandmother died. So on Friday I drove up to my parent’s house and on Saturday my dad and two brothers drove out to Pennsylvania.

It was a difficult time. The most difficult part was to see my grandfather so lost the whole time we were there. He and my grandma had been married 51 years. He really is unsure of the future and confused about how to live without her.

During the visitations and all the way up until the funeral started, Grandpap was sitting in his wheelchair right by the casket looking up at her. He would mutter some words occasionally, but mostly he just looked at her and cried.

I cannot imagine the pain he is feeling. I lost a grandmother, but he lost his bride. It was during those moments that I realized I had no words to offer him. I just went up and put my hand on his back and stood there by his side.

He cried more and at one point said, “I ain’t ever going to get to see her again.” He also told me to make sure and take care of my family and cherish them because once they are gone, that is it. The best thing I could do for this very broken man was to hold him and be silent.

Remember Job from the Old Testament? Remember the pain he went through. He lost basically everything. He lost his sons and daughters along with all of his livestock (and he had a lot)! Then he was no longer healthy. He was covered in sores from head to foot.

Lucky for Job he had friends, great friends, who sat in silence for seven days with Job because “they saw that his pain was very great.” These friends did not want to contaminate the comfort they were giving with words. They were simply there for Job. They cried as he cried and sat on the ground as he did. They empathized with him without saying a word. Silence was better.

I learned that again this weekend. It would have done me no good to tell Grandpap “Well as long as the both of you have lived good Godly lives there is hope that one day the two of you will be kicking up gold dust in heave someday.” There may come a time when offering those words of encouragement would help but for the moment just identifying his pain is the best thing.

Too often we are quick to dish out advice. We want people to heal quickly. “If they would just realize that things will not always feel this way then they would be able to get over this!” Remember those friends of Job? Everything was going great until they opened their mouths to speak. Job let out a cry in his confused state and they all took that as it was time to offer advice.

Instead of jumping on the advice wagon, just hurt with the hurting. Cry with them. Put your arm around them to let them know you are there. Let the hurting know you love them, that you are there for them. There will come a day (and for some it is sooner than others) when we must help the person to heal using words. At the beginning though, when the pain is too great for words, just be there.

Have you ever received advice from someone during a time of pain and all you needed was a shoulder to lean on? When do you think it is right to begin offering that advice?

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One Response to “Offer the Hurting Something Special: Silence”

  1. […] Offering the Hurting Something Special: Silence November 3 […]

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